Sir Stanley Matthews - The Pioneer of a Professional Footballer

By Jatinder Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

Sir Stanley Matthews was a pioneer of the modern game as well as a gentlemen. He set the standards that other players follow now because of his love of the game 

Modern football has become a business. With players and agents making millions from transfer fees, many players have been accused of being more motivated by money than the enjoyment of the game. The big clubs especially in the English Premier League will often have specialist support staff, so that each player gets the best care possible, in order for the team to win.

Yet very few people know the impact that Sir Stanley Matthews had on the modern game. He was such a professional in the way he treated his body and mind that he carried on playing professional football until he was 50! To put this into context most players retire now at about 32-35. How did he do this and inspire modern football as we know it?

He Was Motivated By His Character Not Success  

Modern football has been dominated by a "win at all costs" mentality with the price of failure and losing high. Players are known to dive and cheat and disrespect the referees to succeed. But Sir Stanley was motivated by more than just his success. He was motivated by his conscience. As one of his teammates Jimmy Armfield said:

"He never got booked. He never queried a referee, dived, looked for a free-kick. He’d never retaliate. And he had some kickings. He told me that I shouldn’t go around trying to kick people because that’s not what football is about."

He Loved Training As Much As Winning

A lot of top sportsmen and women, prefer playing their sport in front of packed stadiums. Sir Stanley Matthews loved training as much as playing in front of crowds.  Mr Armfield said:

"Stan was a consummate pro. He was the first one who really worked at personal fitness. In a morning you could go down to the beach at 8am and he’d be there doing deep breathing then jogging up and down. I learned more from him than any coach. I’d just watch him."


He Continually Looked For Better Ways To Improve 

Rather than resting on his laurels, Sir Stanley had a curious mind. He wanted to find innovative ways to develop himself so that he could be the best he could be. One of his opponents Cliff Jones said:

"He was very forward-thinking. Just before the game he would have a drink of egg, milk and glucose powder. His pre-match meal, if you like...On a Monday he wouldn’t have anything to eat. He would just drink eight pints of water to flush his system out. These days they call it detoxifying. He was very much his own man. He would have vitamin tablets. All things we never thought of. That’s why he played until he was 50. Ryan Giggs was 40 when he packed it in. Stan went on for another 10 years!"

His daughter Jean Gough said:

"I remember the discipline my dad followed. I can see him now, making his carrot juice every day. Pop was obsessed with eating the right foods."

As Sir Stanley Matthews shows, in order to be great, we have to be more than just a winner. We have to care about other people around us and the impact our actions can have on them. It is clear that Sir Stanley's discipline and character just as much as his skill had an impact on those around him.

This is why he is respected so much to this day. Furthermore it is only when we are driven by the love of what we do will we be prepared to look for new and innovative ways to better ourselves, otherwise we won't have the motivation to continue to strive to be the best. Sir Stanley Matthews shows us why so many modern players retire to early having made their millions. To read more on this story click here...

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